A name that is synonymous with the defensive history of Western Carolina football is coming back to Cullowhee.

Former Catamount defensive lineman and 15-year NFL veteran Clyde Simmons has joined Coach Mark Speir’s staff and will coach the defensive ends. He comes to WCU after spending last season as the defensive line coach at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis.

A 2002 Western Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Simmons played for five different NFL teams following his collegiate career. He was taken in the ninth round of the 1986 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, who enshrined him in their hall of fame in 2018.

“It is always great when you can bring back a former player to the coaching staff, but in Clyde Simmons, we are getting a Catamount legend,” Speir said. “We are so excited as a program to bring back a Catamount Hall of Famer and 15-year NFL great. Simmons had an incredible professional career in the NFL, but moreover, he is a great person who understands the rich history and traditions of Catamount football. He will bring instant credibility with our players and future Catamount recruits. Clyde brings a lot of knowledge and experience not only as a player but having coached for both the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns.”

After retiring from the NFL in 2000, Simmons worked outside the game until 2008 when he began his coaching career as the defensive line coach at Greater Atlanta Christian School. In 2010, he accepted a position as a defensive intern coach for the New York Jets. Two years later, he became an assistant defensive line coach with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. After four seasons with the Rams, Simmons landed the defensive line coach position with the Cleveland Browns.

Born in Lane, S.C., Simmons graduated from New Hanover High in Wilmington and was a 2008 inductee into the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame.

He was a leader along the Catamount defensive line from 1982-85 and was a member of the 1983 team that reached the NCAA Division I-AA national championship game.

Simmons ended his collegiate career ranked ninth in program history and is currently 12th with 307 tackles, He is third in school history in tackles for loss (47) and is fourth in sacks (23).

In 1985, he was named All-Southern Conference, as well as first-team All-American.

Simmons played eight seasons with the Eagles (1986-1993) and two years with the Arizona Cardinals (1994-95). He also played two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1996-97) and Chicago Bears (1999-2000) and one season with the Cincinnati Bengals (1998).

In his NFL career, Simmons recorded 121.5 sacks, forced 25 fumbles and intercepted three passes, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

He was twice selected to the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro in 1991 and 1992.13